WILLIAMSON – The murder trial of Anthony Collins, accused of killing 70 year old Roland Stafford in late 2014, is expected to continue throughout the week in Mingo County Circuit Court.
Collins faces charges related to first degree murder, first degree robbery, kidnapping and conspiracy.
Logan County Circuit Judge Roger Perry is presiding over the trial. The defendant, Anthony Collins is being represented by Susan Van Zant.
Jury selection for the trial began Monday morning. Opening arguments were heard on Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Mingo County Prosecuting Attorneys Joshua Ferrell and Nathan Brown began calling witnesses. The prosecutors also showed crime scene photos that depicted Stafford’s brutal murder. The photos showed that the victim was allegedly tied and beaten to death.
Investigators stated in 2014 that Stafford died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
Stafford was discovered dead on Dec. 22, 2014 at his home in Taylorville. His death was investigated by the Williamson Detachment of the West Virginia State Police (WVSP).
Two others were arrested in connection with Stafford’s death. Billy Mitchem and Melissa Cochran, also from Taylorville were arrested in Tazwell County, Va. which borders southern W.Va.
The two were arrested after Stafford’s 2003 Ford Ranger pickup truck was discovered abandoned on a mountain in Tazwell.
Anonymous tips led investigators to the location of Mitchem and Cochran. The pair was staying with a relative in Tazwell at the time of their discovery. Although Cochran was charged with the theft of the truck, she was not charged with the death of Stafford.
In a criminal complaint filed on Mitchem, he allegedly advised officers that he and Collins entered Stafford’s home with the intent to commit a robbery. The criminal complaint also states that Mitchem observed Collins beating Stafford and did nothing to stop him. According to the complaint, Collins and Mitchem stole several hundred dollars from Stafford which was used to purchase drugs.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)